Bipartisan support leads legislators to include $13.5 million for cancer-research project

AUSTIN, Minn. – Tuesday, May 8 —State legislators on Monday approved the full $13.5 million in bonding funds requested by Austin Port Authority to help expand The Hormel Institute, allowing construction to begin within the year.

Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated his support for the public works bonding bill passed by the Senate and House that includes funding for a second major expansion at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota-Mayo Clinic. In 2008, the Institute celebrated an expansion and renovation project that tripled its size and added space for doubling the number of jobs of research faculty and staff.

Austin Port Authority, the City of Austin’s economic-development entity, requested bonding to help expand The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned cancer research center and create about 120 high-quality jobs over five years as well as many construction jobs. It also will strengthen the Institute’s partnerships with the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic.

“We are extremely thankful to our local legislators and those from throughout the state for so strongly supporting our project,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “Our message is one of thanks and we thank the Governor for his strong support as well. This is a wise investment for the State of Minnesota. With this expansion, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota – with our partner Mayo Clinic – will accelerate cancer research discoveries, create new jobs and provide global leadership in the important industry of bioscience.”

With state funds, Port Authority now will arrange for a local match for the project, which has finalized plans and is ready to begin construction within the year, adding 15 state-of-the-art labs and better space for the Institute’s growing International Center of Research Technology (ICRT) for cancer-fighting technologies, including its supercomputers, mass spectrometry and protein-crystallization laboratories.

“We are highly appreciative for this vital, bipartisan support from the State of Minnesota and for the state to partner with us for the first time on a building project for The Hormel Institute,” said Jerry McCarthy, Board Chair of Austin Port Authority. “The Port Authority is pleased to have an important role in making this project happen.”

City officials and the representatives of The Hormel Institute and The Hormel Foundation who worked vigorously on the expansion bonding effort are highly grateful for the leadership of Austin legislators Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe as well as that from Rep. Richard Murray of Albert Lea, Senate Majority Leader David Senjem of Rochester and Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester, among others. This effort included local leaders testifying Jan. 31 with Rep. Poppe on the bonding request before a House jobs committee.

Late last year, leaders of the Senate and House Capital Investment Committees separately toured the Institute as part of their preliminary work heading into this year’s bonding session. This session, Gov. Dayton included the Institute’s expansion as one of three projects he highlighted at a press conference unveiling his proposed bonding bill. He included the full $13.5 million request and invited Dr. Zigang Dong to stand with him during the press conference.

Additional space is needed at The Hormel Institute, with new labs created through a 2006-2008 expansion project now full. With that last expansion, the Institute tripled its facility’s size with financial support fully paid for privately.

“The space that will be built to expand The Hormel Institute will provide new jobs, grow the important partnership with Mayo Clinic, accelerate answers to cancer and keep Minnesota globally competitive through strengthening the industry of medical research,” said Gary J. Ray, Chair of The Hormel Foundation. “This is a win for the entire State of Minnesota and for every person who cares about cancer research.”

The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota – Mayo Clinic is a world-renowned cancer research center and leader in cancer preventative research. The BioScience Triangle growing the collaborative partnership between the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Mayo Clinic-Rochester and The Hormel Institute-Austin is continuing to expand.

Under its mission of economic development and job creation, Austin Port Authority requested state bonding support to strengthen the BioScience Triangle by building, owning and managing The Hormel Institute’s next expansion.